16 February 2016 (gig)
21 February 2016
Gretchen Peters has been coming to these islands for about 20 years. Simply this country took to her first and while the audiences were small, they were enthusiastic. And so we come forward to tonight, in this lovely (and packed) venue for a retrospective and a reworking of some of her back catalogue.
With no drummer, and just a grand piano, bass and guitars this is a stripped down performance but not raw. The opening Secret of Life still has the AOR flavour of the original just a touch less glossy and doesn’t suffer in the slightest. The sound is key here and it’s pitched perfect throughout the evening: Blackbirds melancholy is a delightful contrast to the following Woman on the Wheel and is one of the highlights.
Similarly, when Peters goes solo with Independence Day on the piano and If Heaven there’s a palpable vulnerability in both songs that is incredibly moving. And this depth is maintained as she criss-crosses through her catalogue, though mainly from the just released Essential collection, other stand outs are the grim Black Ribbons and the beautiful Five Minutes.
Lest we think this just about the singer the rest of the band get to show off their chops when Barry Walsh on piano and guitarist Colm McClean interplay beautifully during the epic main set closer Idlewild.
That’s hard to follow so wisely they leave the stage for a breather and return with a different take on the Bryan Adams co-written When You Love Someone. Finally topping things off with Rodney Crowell’s rouser I Ain't Livin' Long Like This and this time Walsh and McClean just let go and spar between themselves and getting the audience off their backsides.
It would have been very easy for Gretchen Peters to just lob out the Essential album and be easy on the audience. Instead by reworking older numbers you get the feeling that she’s looking back to look forward which could produce some very interesting results.